A federal judge denied the United States governmentâs request to open an Apple iPhone in a drug case in New York, a move that gives Appleâs pro-privacy stance a boost and that has implications for other cases where federal investigators are trying to get data from tech companies.
Magistrate Judge James Orenstein in New Yorkâs Eastern District said in a ruling on Monday that the United States government couldnât use a law called the All Writs Act to force Apple to hack into an iPhone that was seized in connection with a drug case. The government overstepped what the All Writs Act was intended for, the judge wrote.
âAfter reviewing the facts in the record and the partiesâ arguments, I conclude that none of those factors justifies imposing on Apple the obligation to assist the governmentâs investigation against its will,â Judge Orenstein wrote. âI therefore deny the motion.â
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The All Writs Act is also at the center of Appleâs recent fight with the F.B.I. over a phone used by one of the attackers in last yearâs mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. A federal magistrate judge in California ordered Apple to help break into the device, prompting Appleâs chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, to publicly defy the order.
In the San Bernardino case, the government goes beyond using the All Writs Act to ask Apple for data and also asks the company to create new software that would help it to bypass security functions on an iPhone.